No Luck in the Final Attempt To Raise Silent Mars Lander

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NASA detected no signals during a third and final attempt to listen for any signs that the Mars Phoenix Lander survived the long winter that brought its five-month mission to an end in late 2008, U.S. space agency officials said the week of April 12.

Phoenix landed on Mars on May 25, 2008 and operated two months longer than its planned three-month mission, which confirmed the presence of water ice under the martian surface. But once the sun and temperatures dropped and winter set in, the spacecraft did not have enough power to keep operating. The lander went silent in November 2008.

Phoenix was not designed to withstand the extremely low temperatures and icy conditions of the martian arctic winter. But in the unlikely event that the lander’s components survived and the spacecraft received enough energy from the rising spring sun, mission managers planned on listening for any signals that Phoenix was waking itself up.

Two attempts at listening were conducted by NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter in January and February, neither of which turned up any signals. The latest listening attempt was made the week of April 5.